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France’s first sound radar installed to catch noisy bikers

In one rural commune in Ile-de-France, loud motorbikes and scooters will face a fine of up to €135. Seven more towns are to soon follow suit

The sound-level radar camera will record the registration numbers of vehicles which exceed the maximum allowed noise level and issue them with a fine, starting in the latter half of this year Pic: Palatinate Stock / Shutterstock

The world’s first fixed sound-level radar camera device has been put into operation on the roads of a rural commune in Yvelines (Ile de France) in a bid to encourage drivers to keep the noise of their vehicle down to avoid being fined.  

The radar was inaugurated yesterday (January 4) on the route départementale (RD) 46 in Saint-Lambert-des-Bois by Minister for Ecological Transition Barbara Pompili, in the hope of reducing noise pollution in the area.

The road in question, which is situated in the Vallée de Chevreuse, is particularly popular with motorbike and scooter riders because of its hairpin bends and pleasant surrounding countryside. 

In future, however, any drivers using it will have to limit the noise they make to 90 decibels or less in order to avoid a fine of up to €135, Nice Matin reports. 

Any vehicle creating noise above this will have its registration number recorded in order for the fine to be issued, although the 90dB noise limit will be relaxed slightly for more powerful vehicles. 

Fines to be issued from the second half of 2022

The first fines for vehicles which break the maximum permitted noise limit will be issued in the second half of 2022, after the authorities are satisfied that the machine is reliable and capable of picking out individual vehicle sounds on a busy road.

The sound-level radar will enable authorities to punish motorcyclists who disturb others through making noise, while at the same time freeing up police officers from patrolling the streets. 

“Until now, sound-level meters have existed for penalising these behaviours, but few police departments had them and too few officers knew how to use them,” said Laurianne Rossi, the La République en Marche! MP who piloted the project in her capacity as president of the Conseil national du bruit government advisory commission.

“This equipment is a world first.” 

Sound radars will also be installed in seven other French communes in the coming days, targeting areas where the speed limit is limited to 50km/h. 

The towns concerned are: Paris, Nice, Toulouse, Bron (Rhône), Rueil-Malmaison (Hauts-de-Seine), Villeneuve-le-Roi (Val-de-Marne) and Saint-Forget (Yvelines), where a type of sound monitoring system had already been tested out since 2019. 

Sound radar devices will be trialled for two years in these areas, in the hope of finding an effective solution for noise pollution that can be rolled out across France.

Cost of noise is estimated to cost France [indirectly] €147billion per year

Some 87% of Ile-de-France residents who responded to a recent survey carried out by road noise observation centre Bruitparif said that they would be in favour of introducing penalties for loud motorbikes and scooters. 

“The cost of noise – most notably in terms of the health impacts linked to loss of sleep and the drop in value of affected homes – for French society is estimated to be €147billion per year,” the Ministry for Ecological Transition said in a statement.

“In the heart of the densely populated Paris region, Bruitparif estimates that noise [pollution] shortens people’s health life expectancy by nearly 11 months.” 

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